Friday, September 7, 2012

Environmental Challenge

As the Queens Chronicle is reporting, WPU has forced the city to conduct a full environmental review of the newly configured Willets Point development-a project that resembles the original plan about as much as the Bride of Frankenstein resembles a newlywed:

"In the ongoing battle between Willets Point United and the city, score one for the little guy.In a court decision handed down on Aug. 14, the city’s Economic Development Corp. is instructed to provide a full environmental review of Phase 1 work. The court order states that the city cannot proceed with the redevelopment plan until there is an appropriate environmental review, as well as any additional approvals that are needed."

While the city remains, shall we say unfazed about the challenges ahead, it must realize that it will run into problems if it is trying to sell this shinola as the same concoction that was passed in 2008 by the city council. As we told the Chronicle:

WPU welcomes the court decision that mandates a full environmental review of what the Bloomberg administration calls ‘Phase 1’ of the Willets Point development. This decision upholds the position of WPU and overturns the initial efforts of NYC EDC to avoid scrutiny of this greatly expanded plan — one that alters the original concept passed in 2008 by the City Council.”

And what a plan it is-a drastically altered monstrosity: "Gone is the affordable housing and the living wage requirements and in their place is a giant auto-dependent mall proposed to be built on a parking lot designated as parkland. In addition, all the traffic generated will not have any way to be mitigated because no Van Wyck ramps will be built until at least 2025, if then,” the statement said. “This is, in short, a monstrosity that should be defeated and in no way justifies the condemnation of the property owned, in many instances,by scores of business owners for generations.

Adding to the city's woes is the fact that the original environmental work on the project has been exposed as fraudulent-with one set of traffic data for the original EIS and a contradictory set for the ramp approvals. What this means to us is that none of the original analysis can be relied on with any degree of confidence-and that the city needs to do an entirely new analysis with a new consultant since the old one, AKRF, is thoroughly compromised.

Put very simply, this is an unholy hot mess and the city council should make it clear to the mayor that this mutation has no credibility and the entire development of the Iron Triangle needs to go back to the drawing board.